Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Limits of a First-Year Writing Course

In a blog post on Inside Higher Ed last month, John Warner constructed an end-of-year list detailing some reasons why first-year writing may not fully prepare college students to write well in a variety of disciplines. His post, entitled "I Cannot Prepare Students to Write Their (History, Philosophy, Sociology, Poly Sci., etc...) Papers" begins as follows:
Occasionally, one hears grumbling from faculty who assign writing in their courses about the apparent lack of preparation of students to successfully execute those assignments. They wonder what’s happening in the general education writing courses when so many students seem to arrive in without the skills necessary to succeed at college-level writing, particularly research-based analytical work. 
As an instructor of first-year writing it can be hard not to take these things personally. 
I do my best to help students succeed for the future writing occasions they’ll confront in college and beyond, but the truth is, I cannot properly prepare them for what’s coming.
Click here to read John's blog and discover his reasons why students may be struggling in post-FYC genre writing. He also offers advice on assigning writing in non-English courses, along with a final word of optimism that "struggle is actually an excellent educational outcome. But that struggle must be meaningful to students, and so even if they are defeated, they are better armed for the next battle."

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